Maryland Shrine Inducts 2 Family-Oriented Dairymen

2/23/2013 7:00 AM
By Laurie Savage Maryland Correspondent

FREDERICK, Md. — Two family-oriented men who made major contributions to the dairy industry will be inducted into the Maryland Dairy Shrine during the Maryland Dairy Convention today at the Frederick Fairgrounds.

Frank Walbert of Palm Bay, Fla., and Myron Wilhide of Detour are this year’s honorees. Each will be represented in portrait form at the shrine facility in Keedysville.

“They’re honoring me for something I enjoyed,” said Walbert. “I feel blessed; it’s been a good ride.”

Walbert was born and raised in Queen Anne’s County and spent most of his life involved in his main interests: family, dairy cattle and crop production.

Walbert joined 4-H at a young age and exhibited cattle, pigs and vegetables. He participated in public speaking and dairy judging. He won the Maryland 4-H dairy judging contest in 1955, going on to the national and international contests, where the team won.

Walbert married Paige Bishop, and they farmed until 1964. He then became herdsman at the University of Maryland Agronomy, Dairy and Forage Research Farm in Howard County, where the couple lived for 29 years.

While being promoted to manager, the dairyman made many contributions to the industry in no-till farming and early embryo transfer work.

The active dairy shrine supporter received the Progressive Breeders Award and the Genetic Merit Award for the university herd. He remained interested in 4-H and was a leader of several clubs, reviving the Howard County Dairy Club. The club, Walbert and his family won multiple Hoard’s Dairyman contests. He coached the Howard County dairy judging and state dairy bowl teams.

Walbert was involved in starting the first Holstein dairy bowl team and was known for a bonus question asked during the competition about the contestants’ Holstein identification numbers.

“It gave people the incentive to know their ID number,” he said. “Maybe it helped somebody along the way.”

In 1993, the Walberts moved back to Centreville, which led to work at the Wye Research and Education Center for 17 more years with the beef program.

Making the move from Eastern Shore to Western Shore and back again meant some adjustments, particularly when switching to working with beef cattle.

“I was well accepted, I have no regrets,” Walbert said.

The couple retired and moved to Florida in 2010 to be near their son, Steve. Their other children are Anne, John and Julie.

Wilhide agreed with Walbert on the opportunity to be inducted into the dairy shrine.

“I am very honored and humbled. It’s an elite group,” he said.

Wilhide was born and raised on the farm that has been in the family since 1854. Wilhide had four brothers who lived on neighboring farms. In 1960, Wilhide married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Lescalleet. They have two daughters, Denise Carmack and Renee Lease, both of whom are involved in their own farm operations.

“We have a great time at Sunday dinners with our immediate family, discussing farm issues and enjoying our grandkids,” Wilhide said.

In 1963, Wilhide and his brother, Richard, joined their father in the dairy business by forming Key De Blue Farm Inc.

“Dad built one of the first milking parlors in the county in 1959. We improved the operation in 1963 by building a freestall barn, large silo with mechanical feeding system and semi- liquid manure system,” Wilhide said.

In 1972, the dairy producers updated the facility again. More ground was rented, and the milking herd numbered 220 with a rolling herd average at a high of 24,000 pounds of milk.

In 2004, the Wilhides had a dairy herd dispersal.

“In the fall of 2007, we started working with a young couple, providing them the opportunity to establish their own herd of dairy cattle. Partly because of two major droughts, high feed prices and low milk prices, we had to discontinue that operation in May,” he said.

Wilhide has been active in numerous agricultural organizations, serving as chairman of the county and state young farmers board, director of the Maryland Cooperative Milk Producers, Inc., chairman of the state Farm Bureau dairy committee and president of the county Farm Bureau. He also served on the National Farm Bureau Dairy Advisory Committee.

“When I was president of the county Farm Bureau, I was interviewed by the local newspaper regarding Farm Bureau issues. Most of these reporters knew nothing about farming, so before I knew it, I was teaching a lot of reporters about farming,” Wilhide said.

From 1983 to 2004, Wilhide served as regional director of Dairymen Incorporated, then Mid-America Dairymen and then Dairy Farmers of America.

“Being a dairy cooperative director got me involved in a lot of dairy committees and study groups,” Wilhide said, noting it formed a base for the work he did later.

Wilhide served on several committees to study the future of dairy farming in Maryland. He was a member of the Maryland Dairy Task Force that pushed for an organization to speak for Maryland dairy farmers and a milk commission.

The Maryland Dairy Industry Association was formed with Wilhide serving as the first president. He continues to be involved in the organization but in the beginning worked in Annapolis with other dairy farmers, organizations and supporters to attempt to establish a milk commission. From that effort, a state dairy advisory board formed that makes a yearly report to the governor on dairy issues.

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